Every Time I Die – ‘Radical’

By Dave Stewart

It’s been a long, long time since we last got a full length album from Buffalo hardcore legends Every Time I Die – five years to be exact – but that wait is finally over. After sharing their first taste of new music towards the end of a tumultuous 2020, the band’s legion of loyal followers (passionately known as ETIDiots) knew that something larger was coming but had no idea what or when. What we all prayed for was a full length album, and that’s what we’ve got with ‘Radical’, the band’s blistering ninth studio record. What we didn’t expect was for it to be a whopping sixteen tracks long, and each one is even more glorious than we could’ve dreamed.

As the dissonant feedback of ‘Dark Distance’ creeps in and vocalist Keith Buckley painfully begs “spare only the ones I love, slay the rest,” everything rips into focus and it quickly becomes clear that the five year wait was worth it. Low ’n’ slow guitars, pummelling drums and unsettling shrieks collectively kick you in the teeth and make it clear that no force is being reserved. It’s pedal to the metal from the offset, and that’s when ETID operate at their absolute best.

‘Sly’ is a mosh-ready tornado with an almost reverent hook, blasting your eardrums with the relentless distorted attack from guitar duo Andy Williams and Jordan Buckley who see the track out with a dirty, gloom-ridden outro. ‘Colossal Wreck’ is a scorching punk-infused brain-melter complete with banshee-like wails, furious riffage and non-stop onslaught courtesy of drummer Clayton ‘Goose’ Holyoak. From the break-neck pace of ‘Distress Rehearsal’ and its thrashy nature to the soaring Southern-tinged charm of the epic ‘White Void’, the goods just don’t stop coming.

There are a couple of very tasty treats buried within in the form of two guest spots; one that we’ve all been waiting for and another we didn’t know we needed. The first can be found on ‘All This And War’, a gloomy headbang-fest that features the volatile pipes of ’68 vocalist Josh Scogin in its ominous, foreboding outro. The second, which is one of the most memorable on the record, is on the luscious ‘Thing With Feathers’, featuring the vocal delights of Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull who drapes his enchanting tones over the beautiful ballad hybrid. ETID are no stranger to guest spots and they always place them well, and these tracks are no exception. Both highlight different sides of the band’s sound and compliment both of the guest’s individual talents and the songs that they’re enhancing.

Another thing that this band does flawlessly is riffs, and ‘Radical’ has them flying at you from every angle. From the thick-as-treacle bass intro from Steve Micciche to the stabbing verses and THAT hard as nails middle section, ‘Post Boredom’ is an absolute riff tour de force. Also make sure you listen to the furious ‘Hostile Architecture’ and try to convince yourself that the dark and skulking lead riff isn’t one of the best to surface this year (it IS one of the best riffs of the year, don’t lie to yourself). Then there’s the ominous ‘Desperate Pleasures’, the erratic ‘sexsexsex’, the upbeat yet venomous ‘Planet Shit’ – ‘Radical’ is unsurprisingly comprised of solely solid gold. Did you really think it’d be anything less?

One of the most admired components of the band is Keith’s effortlessly poetic lyrics which are also in fine form, seeing him more exposed than ever. Tracks like ‘The Whip’, ‘Post Boredom’, ‘Hostile Architecture’ and the emotionally devastating album closer ‘We Go Together’ are all solid examples of why he’s so revered among lyricists, story-telling with a candid and bleak approach that evokes a whole range of emotions. It makes the album not just a hard-hitting slab of heavy music but also a jaw-dropping journey through self-deprecation, criticism and observation of the world surrounding us, painting a stimulating and often tragic picture of how things might look inside his head. What makes it more tragic is that a lot of what he sees is relatable, and it creates a listening experience that’s both punishing and remarkably intimate.

Overall, this is simply stunning. Every Time I Die are one of the most consistently high-performing bands in the heavy music world, and ‘Radical’ is yet another trophy that they can place on their now overflowing mantle. Combine their clear mastery of the craft with the weighty, crystal clear production skills of audio wizard Will Putney, and there was no way this was ever going to be a bad record. At this point it’s really hard to believe that they’ll ever put a foot wrong, and this album is another fearless leap forwards as they embark on their ninth victory lap. One of the best bands of both this generation and the last, long may they reign.

DAVE STEWART

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